Mail & Guardian
April 15, 2019
The lawyer defending Australia’s biggest news organisations against contempt charges for their reporting of Cardinal George Pell’s sex crimes conviction denounced on Monday what he called an unprecedented attack on press freedom in the country.
Twenty-three journalists and 13 media companies face fines and prison terms for allegedly breaching a gag order not to report on last year’s trial of Pell for child sex abuse.
Pell, 77, the most senior Catholic cleric convicted of sex crimes, was found guilty in December of abusing two choirboys and is serving a six-year prison term. He has appealed the conviction.
The court had banned all reporting of the case pending a second trial scheduled for this month, but the gag order was lifted in February when that trial was cancelled.
Some foreign media, including The New York Times and the Washington Post, reported Pell’s conviction in December, while local media ran cryptic articles complaining that they were being prevented from reporting a story of major public interest.
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